Manhattan DA Accused of Politically Motivated Prosecution in Trump Trial: House Judiciary Committee Report

Tom Ozimek
By Tom Ozimek
April 26, 2024Politics
Manhattan DA Accused of Politically Motivated Prosecution in Trump Trial: House Judiciary Committee Report
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks during a press conference at the Louis J. Lefkowitz State Office Building in New York City on March 21, 2024. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

The House Judiciary Committee has released a report documenting the panel’s allegations that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s decision to bring criminal charges against former President Donald Trump in the so-called “hush money” case was driven by a political vendetta.

The committee announced the publication of the report—entitled “An Anatomy of a Political Prosecution: The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Vendetta Against President Donald J. Trump”—in an April 25 press release that accused Mr. Bragg of undermining Americans’ confidence in the judicial system.

“The fundamental mission of any prosecutor’s office is to uphold the rule of law. And one of the hallmarks of this mission is to ensure that justice is blind—applied fairly and equally,” the committee wrote in the release.

“Bragg’s politically motivated prosecution of President Trump threatens to destroy this notion of blind justice by using the criminal justice system to attack an individual he disagrees with politically, and, in turn, erodes the confidence of the American people,” it added.

The report details the backdrop of Mr. Bragg’s decision to charge President Trump with 34 felony counts using a novel legal theory that bootstrapped misdemeanor allegations into a felony, alleging that the prosecution was motivated by political calculations.

“The story behind the DANY’s [District Attorney of New York] investigation into President Trump and the people involved illustrate the clear partisan aim of this case,” committee members wrote in the report’s executive summary.

The committee advocated for a number of legislative solutions to what it described as “politically motivated local prosecutions,” noting in the report that draft bills like the No More Political Prosecutions Act could also be used to address Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ prosecution of President Trump on charges of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to interfere in the 2020 election.

Mr. Bragg’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the report.

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg leaves 1 Police Plaza after a press conference in New York City on April 18, 2023. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

‘Pressure Campaign’

The committee’s report alleged that Mr. Bragg, an elected Democrat, brought the case in part due to pressure from former special prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who led an investigation into President Trump’s finances.

Mr. Pomerantz, who authored a book titled “People vs. Donald Trump,” was a Manhattan prosecutor under Mr. Bragg. He resigned in 2022 because of Mr. Bragg’s initial unwillingness to pursue a criminal case against the former president.

“Pomerantz’s book was part of a public pressure campaign to force District Attorney Alvin Bragg into action,” the Judiciary Committee said in the release, alleging that Mr. Bragg’s decision to change President Trump in April 2023 was because he “succumbed to Pomerantz’s pressure campaign.”

Days after Mr. Bragg indicted President Trump in April 2023, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) subpoenaed Mr. Pomerantz, ordering him to appear before the committee to testify.

Mr. Bragg sued in a bid to block the congressional subpoena, but a judge denied his request.

While Mr. Pomerantz did ultimately appear before the panel and was questioned for around six hours, he refused to give substantive responses, repeatedly claiming Fifth Amendment protections.

“When Pomerantz appeared before the Judiciary Committee to discuss his book and politically motivated investigation, he was unusually silent—refusing to answer even the most basic of questions,” the committee members wrote in the report, which includes a transcript of Mr. Pomerantz’s deposition.

The transcript shows that Mr. Pomerantz declined to answer over 200 questions, either pleading the 5th or stating that he could not disclose privileged information.

In its report, the committee also referenced Mr. Pomerantz’s book, which the panel said paints a “startling picture of prosecutorial abuse.”

“Pomerantz’s own words show how the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, populated with partisans who openly bragged about their desire to get President Trump, used its immense power in the persecution of a person, not a crime,” the report states.

The committee highlighted Mr. Pomerantz’s various grievances with President Trump, as outlined in his book, along with the former special prosecutor’s eagerness to see the former president prosecuted.

“These are the actions of a rogue, overzealous prosecutor acting with political motivations,” committee members wrote. “And that motivation infected the investigation from the start.”

The committee also said in the report that Mr. Bragg’s decision to bring criminal charges against the former president following Mr. Pomerantz’s “pressure campaign” raised “considerable suspicions” as to whether his decision was due to political pressure.

Mr. Pomerantz was not available for comment on the report’s allegations but he said in earlier testimony that he’s certain he broke no laws and that his book is accurate.

Mark F. Pomerantz and Donald Trump
L: Mark F. Pomerantz at a press conference in New York City on March 12, 2008. (Chris Hondros/Getty Images) R: Then-President Donald Trump speaks to the media from the White House South Lawn in Washington on Aug. 7, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The report also details what it describes as evidence of Mr. Bragg’s open animosity towards President Trump while taking a sharply critical view of the DA’s decision to bootstrap misdemeanor charges into felonies.

“Bragg ultimately settled on a novel legal theory untested anywhere in the country and one that federal authorities declined to pursue to resurrect the matter,” the report states. “The only intervening factor, it appears, was President Trump’s announcement that he would be a candidate for President in 2024.”

From Misdemeanor To Felony

Mr. Bragg indicted President Trump on 34 counts of allegedly falsifying business records in order to conceal $130,000 in payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in exchange for keeping quiet about her allegations of an affair.

Under New York state law, falsifying business records is a misdemeanor. However, if the records fraud was used to cover up or commit another crime, the charge could be elevated to a felony.

“These charges are normally misdemeanors subject to a two-year statute of limitations, but Bragg used a novel and untested legal theory—previously declined by federal prosecutors—to bootstrap the misdemeanor allegations as a felony, which extended the statute of limitations to five years, by alleging that records were falsified to conceal a second crime,” the report states.

President Trump has denied the affair and any wrongdoing, alleging that the case is politically motivated.

A number of legal experts have challenged the way Mr. Bragg elevated the misdemeanor into a felony.

“In order to turn the state statute into a felony, you have to borrow a federal statute,” retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told The Epoch Times in an interview in March 2023. He said that this combining of laws “seems to raise real serious legal questions.”

“In Bragg’s case, what they’re trying to do is add one and one, and come up with 11,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “No rational person would look at these two statutes and say that Trump violated them.”

Mr. Dershowitz recently said that he believes that Mr. Bragg’s office has violated voters’ rights with the Trump prosecution, with the legal scholar arguing that the case amounts to a criminal conspiracy to influence elections.

From The Epoch Times

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